Everybody talks about the best value picks come NFL draft time.
In other words, who were the best football players to go later in the draft?
Now that everybody else has had a say, I’ll weigh in with regard to SEC players.
Below are my value selections. These guys either went in the last three rounds of the draft or went undrafted, and I’m betting that all five will be contributors in the NFL. They’re listed alphabetically:
Josh Chapman, DT, Alabama: The Indianapolis Colts took Chapman with the first pick of the fifth round, and all you really need to know about Chapman is that he played most of last season with a torn ACL. He waited until after the season to have surgery. That decision hurt his draft stock, but helped his team and was a big reason the Crimson Tide won their second national championship in the last three years. Had Chapman not been recovering from surgery at draft time, he would have gone a lot higher. He should be cleared for practice in July and will have a great chance to win the starting nose guard job this fall.
Tim Fugger, DE, Vanderbilt: The Colts took Fugger with the seventh pick of the seventh round, and he projects as an outside linebacker in the Colts’ 3-4 scheme. The thing you love about Fugger is how smart, tough and intense he is. Plus, he ran a 4.6 40-yard dash in his workout at 250 pounds. He has a knack for making big plays, as evidenced by his eight sacks and three forced fumbles last season, and he doesn’t take plays off. There are more than a few former Vanderbilt defenders earning a living in the NFL right now. Fugger has everything it takes to join that fraternity.
Chris Rainey, RB, Florida: The Pittsburgh Steelers took Rainey with the 24th pick in the fifth round. Just from a special teams perspective alone, Rainey figures to be a huge asset. He has game-changing speed and will certainly be a threat in the return game, but what a lot of people forget is that he’s also Florida’s all-time leader with six blocked kicks. There’s just no substitute for the kind of speed Rainey possesses, and he’s proven than he can both run and catch the football. The Steelers will find a niche for him, and Rainey will put his speed to use in a number of different ways.
Danny Trevathan, LB, Kentucky: The Denver Broncos took Trevathan with the 18th pick in the sixth round. There were some who didn’t think Trevathan would be drafted at all, but a savvy football personnel guy is always going to take a chance on a player as productive as Trevathan was during his career at Kentucky. He racked up 287 total tackles over his last two seasons and was one of the surest tacklers in the SEC. He doesn’t have ideal size (6-0, 237), and he’s not very fast (4.82 in the 40). But turn on the tape and watch him make play after play against some of the best competition in the land. The guy’s a football player, and he’ll get it done on defense and on special teams at the next level.
William Vlachos, C, Alabama: Vlachos was not drafted and agreed to a free-agent deal with the Tennessee Titans. Let’s face it. If Vlachos were about three inches taller, he would have gone as high as any center in the draft. But he’s barely 6-0, and we all know the NFL’s hang-up with measurables. It’s a given that Vlachos isn’t going to get any taller, but he’s a natural when it comes to playing center. He was the engine for that Alabama offensive line last season and has started for three years. He’s as smart as he is tough and always wins the leverage battle because he plays so low. Go ask Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram what they think of Vlachos, who went up against everybody from Nick Fairley to Michael Brockers to Fletcher Cox during his career.